Adelaide University vs Adelaide Warriors at Park #12, November 13 2021

November 8, 2021

Having been challenged to bring more variety into my bowling by KP, I took up the opportunity to head to the Mawson Lakes nets with one of the new balls I got for my birthday. But first, I needed to fix my load-up position which deprived me of any swing which turned me into a buffet bowler. People have said that swing is in the wrist, but I find that angling the seam while keeping the wrist in a neutral position was giving me optimal results. And so, it showed today as I got extravagant movement both ways. For the inswinger which has been my least frequently used delivery, I had resorted to the grip demonstrated by the late Bob Woolmer in one of his coaching videos. That grip helped me to develop decent swing, but it has been tricky to get it to land on the perfect spot which was on a sixth stump line outside the off-stump to a right-hander. Bowling that delivery to the left-hander wouldn’t be a problem though. That aside, the crosswinds I encountered over the weekend took the sting out of the ‘Rohitpindi’ express. Thereby, I started to run in like a sprinter by pumping my arms which added a bit of potency to my deliveries. Moreover, my follow-through finishes up right up to the batter, perhaps adding to the intimidation factor. Despite encountering the crosswind again, my momentum-building run-up nullified the crosswind and still bowled some heat. The ‘Rohitpindi’ express is back and better.

Once the load-up issue was solved, I played around with angles. In addition to running in close to the stumps, I experimented with going wide of the crease and back while I was able to control and land the outswinger. Playing with angles in my view should confuse the batter to some degree as to where the ball is going to land, maybe being sucked into playing a delivery they should be left alone. The angle where I am delivering from together with the direction of my front arm dictates where the ball is going to pitch. Mixing these two ingredients up is critical to prevent batters from getting themselves into a rhythm.

November 11, 2021

Yesterday I was watching some old cricket footage – West Indies vs South Africa 2001 Test Series. One passage of play amazed me. Carl Hooper, the then West Indies captain was bowling. He brought in a short leg and the next ball, the Proteas’ batter attempted the sweep and was bowled. Geoffrey Boycott on air said something like ‘That was well bowled, he (Hooper) played on his mind’. That got me thinking that I could try to do something similar like after two dot balls, will he be itching to hit a boundary? But it depends on each batter. I could, in these circumstances put my mid-on and mid-off back, bowl outside off-stump, and see if he will go for the boundary shot. These aspects of gamesmanship are required in cricket as it is a mental game.  

Another change I will need to make is my starting field following a chat with Adrian Wright whom I was introduced to through a mutual family friend. By default, I operate with a 5-4 field as I want to bowl stump to stump moving the ball both ways. But if I was going to operate on an off-stump or 4th/5th stump line, I will change to a 6-3 field. Keep a slip and a gully, take out a leg-side fielder and place him into the covers. Depending on how I go, I can push mid-on and/or mid-off back or have a cover sweeper while keeping a cover fielder inside the circle.  

November 13, 2021

In the lead-up to today, there was going to be some doubt whether we will have a match as there were heavy amounts of rain over the last two days. The rain created doubt in my mind whether firstly the pitch will be ready to play on and secondly, will the conditions improve for us to get playing at all today. Yesterday, our fixture against Adelaide University was shifted from Park #10 to Park #12. I knew having driven by Park #10 that it had no covers, but I did see that Park #12 had covers already. Hence, it was a smart thing to do by the home team to request for this shift. The good thing is that we have a game of cricket for sure, but it remains to be seen how much of it we will get today. I will be grateful if we got a game at all as family commitments will prevent me from playing the following weekend.

Personally, it feels a bit odd coming back to Park #12 to play having briefly trained there with Adelaide University when I first arrived in Adelaide.  From memory, Park #12 has two pitches. There is one pitch that is closest to the hard wicket nets on one side of the oval and there’s another pitch that is closest to the turf nets on the opposite side. I suspect that we would be playing on the former as the latter is the main pitch used for SACA Premier Cricket fixtures. It is an opportunity for me to show Adelaide University how much I have improved since I left them ahead of the 2019-20 season. It might be time to unleash the ‘Rohitpindi’ express once again. While I am anticipating crosswinds, I am confident that my new run-up will negate it better than it did last weekend. If I can control my front arm and put it in the right areas under helpful conditions, I will feel that I at least did my job.

We got a full game indeed and it went down to the wire. We were sent into bat by Adelaide University. Unfortunately, Boree’s inconsistency with the bat continued. Only managed five following his splendid hundred last week. The top-order effort was this time carried out by Amrish Patel and Brijesh Panchal who added 48 for the third wicket. When both fell – Bijesh for 20 and Amrish for 39, we were in desperate trouble at 5 for 78. And it did not improve at all despite Amit Patel’s efforts in constructing 30 runs. We were bowled out for 135 just at the start of the 34th over. I had come in at No. 11 and played out two deliveries. Then at the start of the 34th over, Amit tried to hit over the top but was instead caught at point. That was initially a waste. We could have nudged our way to 150 runs as I could hang around. Nevertheless, we had a total to bowl at and we made a great fist of defending it. Boree bowled out a tidy nine-over quota while dismissing both the openers. Imran Soni bowled a tidy six-over spell. I came on a took a wicket in three overs. Then Manav Jaggi struck in the 19th over. After Blight and Roberts briefly steadied the innings with a 39-run stand, Manav dismissed both batsmen. At 7 for 99, we were in charge. However, Ansari and Rajendiran chipped away at our target and got the required remaining runs under single figures. Then, another twist was in the tale. Chirag Modi, bowling with a whippy shoulder action from a couple of paces, clutched a caught and bowled offering from Ansari. In the same over, I ‘froze’ under pressure. Ed Finlay clipped the ball to me at forward square leg as I was deep but having tried to attempt a run out at the bowler’s end, I threw it wide but it eluded Chirag and the batters went for an overthrow. Order was soon restored with two overs to go. Finlay tried hitting over the top but Boree took a good catch to give Manav his fourth wicket. That left us one over and one wicket remaining with four runs to get. Rightfully, Chirag with his experience was bowling it. He conceded two singles on the first two balls. Then, there was a mix-up on the next ball as the ball went to Sonu Gupta. With the batters out of their ground, Sonu threw the ball at the bowler’s end and directly hit the stumps to spark wild celebrations in the middle. The win didn’t quite sink in for me until we got off the ground. I had nearly blown it with my wayward throw and in my first over with the ball where I conceded two boundaries. Thankfully, there were insignificant blemishes. I didn’t bowl too badly though. I had got into my rhythm and in my second over, I trapped Reddy LBW with a full delivery. However, nerves had started to creep in as we started to work into their batting. I started to relax when we had them 5 down before drinks but again started to tense up as they got closer to our score. Despite the work I did on Monday, I still wasn’t able to swing the ball, but I was able to vary my angle of delivery. I was initially going to bowl after drinks, but KP wanted to try Chirag for an over. In the end, that was a masterstroke as he’s an experienced cricketer who again delivered when it mattered the most.

Later Boree thought that our win was like the classic 1999 World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa in which a tie resulted in a runout. It indeed, felt that way.

Adelaide Warriors vs Kilburn at LJ Lewis, November 6, 2021

October 25, 2021

Last night, that dropped catch continued to weigh on me heavily which was clear that I do not possess the mental strength to cope in a competitive grade. I was hopeful that all my previous experience in tough competition could have helped me in great stead. But now, my own sensitive personality has now started overcoming me. Which explained why I am unable to move on. Thereby, I messaged Suresh Wadala, our club manager that I sadly do not have the stomach for the battle and am considering withdrawing myself from selections for the season. Instead, I took his offer of playing in the LO4s. Afterward, I had apologized for letting him and the team down despite their efforts to accommodate me into the team. I hope though that over time Mandeep and Vikram would similarly respect my wishes. If I do encounter them, I will have to apologize for letting them down as well even after providing me with initial support. Had I stayed and continued this mental struggle, I might have cost the team an opportunity for finals which would have destroyed me.

Now, having made the switch, that weight soon came off my slight frame (as I write, I weigh around 78kg having been 87kg halfway through the winter). Rumit was happy to hear of my decision as he thought that I might be able to fulfill the role as an opening bowler following their defeat to Walkerville in a high-scoring encounter despite yet another brilliant hundred by Boree Kieng. I had advised captain Krunal Patel (KP) of my decision although I was only to be available next weekend as I will need to set up the house for Diwali. After what I had gone through, a break away from the club will do me a lot of good. That opening bowler position isn’t guaranteed but I hope I can rediscover my enjoyment for the game.

November 6, 2021

In the lead-up to today, I had decided to return back to the action that I bowled with on my very first training session of the season which lead to my moniker, the ‘Rohitpindi express’. It is based on the nickname given to former Pakistan tearaway, Shoaib Akthar who was well known as the ‘Rawalpindi express’. Back in 2015-16, I was known as the ‘Rohit express’ when I showed off bowling quick in the nets but it all fizzled out. I made that decision based on the fact that I had been able to get my outswinger going at a zippy pace. The only concern was that I didn’t get my inswinger going at all, which I hope will be a work in progress moving forward.

I had to scramble to get to the ground having attended the Diwali function in the morning. Having been given the hurry-up, I’d assumed that we were bowling first. It started to rain when I arrived at the ground and so having arrived, I was out to help put the cover on the pitch. As a result, we started 30 minutes later which meant that we can play a full match until 7pm. That was probably the actual reason why I got the hurry up, as we were batting first.

The initial overs were very challenging for Boree and Pinkesh Modi on a sticky wicket. Although Pinkesh fell having battled for a few overs with a broken finger, batting got easier. Boree to his credit survived the initial tricky period and later flourished. He raised his second hundred of the season, making 122 at better than a run-a-ball. But he had help. Amrish Patel made 16 in a 46-run stand and Ravish Modi made 43 in a century stand. These contributions set up a massive flourish from our middle order led by our captain Krunal Patel who made 30 off 19 balls, enabling us to post 8/267 from our 40 overs. Surely, the game was going to be in the bag.

But Kilburn through their openers, Ahmed and Shafa were off to a flyer against the bowling of Boree and Imran Soni. I had spilled a hot chance off Boree’s bowling which could have dismissed Ahmed. In hindsight, I should have taken the chance with two hands instead of one. After seven overs, I was given an opportunity to bowl. KP asked if I was ok bowling into the wind. I had replied that I had been bowling into the wind in the past. In my mind, I had done an adequate job bowling into the wind especially with Maxy Clarke going great guns in C1 with the ball back in 2019-20. My first ball was hit for a boundary, but I took a wicket. Ahmed tried to cut me but the edge went to Boree. In fact, my first two overs went for just seven runs. But then Ali Khan really tore into my bowling. He came down the wicket and walked across his crease but all I could offer was the same line and length although I had varied my pace. He still hit me for boundaries. Thinking about it, I could have used my crease to vary my angles. The actual truth was that I couldn’t swing the ball which would have been due to my load-up position. Later in the night, KP challenged me to observe and outthink a batter moving forward as he views me as a key bowler.

That start helped Ali Khan get set as he took down whatever was served at him. Most of the time, it went for a six. It felt that while he was still in, Kilburn could win the game. But Amit Patel struck as Ali Khan mishit a slog which was well caught on the boundary by Amrish. Ali Khan smoked 109 off 65 balls. An innings that wouldn’t be out of place in a Twenty20 match. Nevertheless, his wicket turned the game extraordinarily in our favor. Wickets tumbled to the spin of Amit, Ravish, and Sonu Gupta as Kilburn failed to keep up with the asking rate. I finished proceedings by catching Reza Ibrahim off Ravish’s bowling but not before a juggle before a tumble into the ground. Having taken the catch, I held the ball up before throwing it on the ground casually. The first person to meet me was KP, then Ravish, and then the rest of the team. Kilburn bowled out for 203 giving us a comfortable 64 run victory. It felt good not only to have contributed to the team cause but also given an opportunity to contribute. Even though I have done some good things, I have some work to do with my bowling. I need to fix my load up while expanding my variety in terms of angles and lengths. At this stage, I feel best served bowling on my own to rectify these flaws.  

Adelaide Warriors vs Adelaide Lutheran at LJ Lewis, October 23, 2021

October 2, 2021

As I have learned from various people including my former captain Chris Arcella, match practice is the best form of practice. This is because you can gain experience from playing out in the middle which can be used in subsequent games. Adelaide Warriors were initially planning to schedule a practice match between the LO1 and LO4 sides but in the lead-up to today, which was when the match was scheduled for, the LO4 squad members will not be able to spare a full afternoon. Given that it is a long weekend, it made sense from a family point of view. Luckily for me, my family had no plans as such for today which made it easier for me to put my hand up. However, in the lead-up to today, I was battling with that thigh niggle from last weekend’s practice. Hence, I was wrapping myself in cotton wool by avoiding intense cardio while rubbing the affected area with Voltaren at least three times a day.

Initially, I felt I was fit and ready to go for the practice match, which was to be against Blue Brigade Sports Club. However, the niggle reappeared while I was batting which left me battling throughout the match. The captain, Mandeep Singh had wanted to look at my batting and had asked me to bat at three. I completely struggled against the extra pace where I was dropped before scoring. However, I managed to hang around for 32 balls for nine runs before I held out at the deep as I had become a liability. My innings contrasted with several other guys who smashed boundaries at will which helped us to 174 even though we were bowled out before we used our allocated 35 overs.

I only disclosed the niggle to my captain and vice-captain after completing an over with the ball from a short run-up. Apart from conceding a boundary on my second ball and the last ball of my three-over spell, I didn’t bowl badly. I had a decent shout for an LBW and had induced a top edge which was dropped. Despite my handicap, we won comfortably courtesy of a six-wicket haul to Suresh Wadala whose variations had Blue Brigade in a spin. For me, though the best ball of the match went to the 2nd vice-captain Shubhang Shah who struck first ball when the batter padded up which I suspect was a googly as Shubhang was a leg-spinning bowler.

Despite the win, there were concerns in our all-round game as pointed out by our captain. One of those concerns was the fitness of several of our potential regular bowlers, me included. The feedback was fair, and this fact will become a major motivating factor ahead of the season opener in two weeks’ time. The biggest announcement that came was that the prime focus is to ensure that the squad has enough eligible players to come to the finals where the minimum criteria is eight games. This implies that people will be rotated depending on who is available. That itself is personally a good thing as I can spend time with family without having to grumble over missing a match. After all, I need to ensure that I play at least eight matches as opposed to aiming for every single match.

October 10, 2021

The focus this week, was to regain my fitness so that I can go and bowl at practice again. I was still rubbing my thigh with Voltaren three times a day, but I was able to push myself with the running. On Wednesday, I ran at 15 km/h on the treadmill and initially didn’t feel any niggle afterward which was a positive sign. Then on Friday, I ran at 20 km/h again on the treadmill and again, did not feel anything whatsoever. I had immediately declared to Vikram, that I was fit and ready to go even though I was unavailable for the upcoming practice match.

Even though I had regained my fitness, I needed to get myself back into the cricketing groove. At this point, in our private WhatsApp group, I had proposed to meet for training this Tuesday as no showers are currently forecasted with the rest of the week under a rainy cloud. At the time of writing, no one has responded to it, implying that I may have to resort to bowling on my own at Salisbury North Oval. Moreover, even though I had indicated my availability for the season opener against MSCC, there is no guarantee that I’ll get a game which will be the case when there are more than 11 availabilities.

October 12, 2021

Training was on as four others have indicated that they will attend which itself is good enough for me. I needed practice with both batting and bowling to help myself prepare for the weekend should I play. If it wasn’t the case, I would have commenced a trend that I wouldn’t hesitate to do even if it cost me valuable game time, which was to withdraw from selection. I was willing to take that stance as going into a match without any practice could spell disaster to both myself and the team.

Today was a good opportunity to correct a few mistakes with the bat especially towards checking the grip, stance, and backlift which deprived me of fluency with shotmaking in that practice match against Blue Brigade. In that match, I didn’t adopt the back and across method that was inspired from watching the likes of Alec Stewart, Greg Chappell, Mark Waugh, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne bat, which was partly successful in practice but didn’t proceed with it was costing me time to get forward to the pitched-up delivery. It is time to experiment today to see if it helps my footwork.

Moreover, it is a good opportunity to start monitoring my bowling workloads as over bowling on my very first training session of the season led to my niggle which took a while to overcome. Given that we as a club are only playing one-day matches, it would make sense not to bowl any more than 54 balls (equivalent to nine overs, the maximum allocation in ATCA 40 over matches).

However, practice did not go to plan but there are some positives to take back. The back and across movement was very helpful against the dog thrower but my tendency to slog the slower bowlers to the leg side was due to my grip. From what I remember, the tips of the two fingers and the thumb on the bottom hand were supposed to pinch the bat handle. I didn’t remember it while I was batting. As for the bowling, my stiff upper body muscles prevented me from getting through my action quickly, and ended up banging the ball in through my muscular strength, depriving me of swinging the ball both ways. It forced me to think by resorting to changes of pace especially when bowling to the big-hitting duo of Suresh Wadala and Imran Soni. This experience was good if I have a bowl against big hitters throughout the season.

October 13, 2021

As a result of me banging the ball in, I was getting slight lower back pain while the stiff upper body muscles were still there. I did manage to find a YouTube video that can alleviate the pain which now I’ll have to do. Even though I was able to fit heavy weights for my lats, biceps, and back, I wasn’t confident in going for a run on the treadmill for the fear of aggravating my back. As for the bowling, I managed to stumble on a YouTube video on the 4 tent-peg theory presented by former first-class cricketer and bowling coach Ian Pont which will have to be a reference point moving forward. Perhaps, I may have to take a step back to practice this theory from the crease bowling extending to my usual run-up. Just to avoid any suspicions, I will have to communicate this across to all the batsmen I’ll be bowling to in practice. If I want to avoid that, I must consider coming to practice at least 30 mins before practicing on my own before going to my usual run-up.

That aside, I had just made a difficult decision to withdraw my availability for the week. It was partly due to the excessive availabilities (which will be the case throughout the season) but more importantly, I must attend a cultural event which starts at 6pm sharp. I could have negotiated my way to leave early but based on my experience, the club will not agree to it (which may impact my selection moving forward). Had I been picked for the season opener, which was in the Tea Tree Gully area, I would have to leave by around 4.30-5pm to come home, freshen up and get dressed to get to the event on time. If there are any positives from my sacrifice, it would be that firstly, any rain leading into the match might cause the match to be abandoned if the pitch was not covered.  Secondly, I will have another training session to find my feet before going into the deep end in a home game against Adelaide Lutheran.

October 19, 2021

I didn’t really miss much as Round 1 was abandoned well before a ball was bowled. ATCA had made this decision considering the continuous rain during the week. It was a surprise decision for us considering that LJ Lewis which was to be the home game for LO4 had covers put in place. Nevertheless, it was quick thinking within the club to arrange a LO1 vs LO4 interclub match which was a high scoring game where a superb hundred by Boree Kieng meant that LO1 had to chase 237 in 40 overs which they managed to do, courtesy of fifties from Vikram and Rahul Rana and a cameo from Surjeet Parmar, a.k.a Fanta for his bubbly personality which probably reflects his batting. I wonder though, would I have made much difference? Maybe, maybe not. I would have been smashed around like I was at practice or came out with respectable figures. Who knows?

I did everything at today’s training session. I started off with fielding having arrived late to practice. I caught every high-ball chance that came to me by tracking the ball and running towards where I perceived the ball may hand to give myself enough time to steady myself under the ball. After that, I was requested to bowl. As I was about to grab my cricket ball, my captain Mandeep Singh said to me along the lines of “Take it easy”. He knew that I suffered a niggle earlier this month after too much bowling at practice last month. From memory, I bowled the equivalent of six overs where I applied the four-tent peg theory. It wasn’t until towards the end of my bowling stint that I rediscovered my rhythm through my run-up (enabling me to swing the ball both ways and get my off-cutter to grip the pitch) as earlier I was running in too fast. Towards the end of the session, I got a bat. Even though I finally figured out the pinch grip, I was still struggling for fluency with my batswing which resulted in me hitting mostly to leg. It was then I realized that if I started swinging the bat as early as I could (given that my hand-eye coordinator and reflexes are not the greatest), then I can get into better positions with my feet, which is what had happened. As a result, I started hitting the ball better and was able to use my feet to Suresh Wadala’s spin. Again, it all has to do with rhythm this time with the bat. This was the session I finally got to really know my techniques which I can use as a checklist whenever I go and play. It was indeed a massive confidence-boosting session.

October 22, 2021

I have been selected for tomorrow’s clash with Adelaide Lutheran at our home ground LJ Lewis. During the off-season, the club managed to get a pavilion erected at the ground. Rather than getting changed in the open, we can do it indoors. I haven’t yet checked out the new change rooms. Tomorrow will be the first time I’ll be using it. As for the actual match, I was contemplating whether to request an extra net session to continue practicing my rhythmical bat-swing but in the end, it wasn’t necessary. I am going to back myself to remember it come game time. If needed, I can request throwdowns before going out to bat.

One doubt I had was the length of my run-up. After a brief session on the power climber at the gym, I went to the Mawson Lakes cricket nets to fix up my run-up. As it turned out, my rhythmical run-up needs 16 steps from the popping crease. On Tuesday, I had estimated 13 steps which made me suspect that I had been unknowingly overstepping the popping crease and over pitching the ball half the time. Hence, while that aspect has now been fixed, I probably need to do a test run tomorrow so that I don’t overstep the crease tomorrow.

October 23, 2021

Today was a forgettable day which left me questioning myself again whether I should really commit myself to cricket at all. I had dropped a hot chance at long-on off Fanta’s bowling. I had initially gone for a reverse cup, but it brushed my fingers and went for four. While I was able to realize that I could have taken on my side like a slip fielder’s catch, that drop brought me down yet again. It became a distraction as I mucked up a throw to the bowler as well as nearly running myself on the first legal delivery I faced. I found it hard to overcome the disappointment of letting people down thereby questioning myself. I would be happy to spend more time at home as opposed to going through the motions on the weekends whenever I’ve dropped a catch. However, If I could crack this mentality through self-motivation then it will do me a lot of good.

My contribution was very quiet. I bowled one over, got hit for four yet got my outswinger going but I had been doing a lot of chasing and retrieving in the lead up to my solitary over, which was why I was short of a gallop. I was hoping then that I might get another opportunity later which never came. I have no idea why I only got one over, but I do not want to question my captain’s call publicly. His decisions need to be respected. Chasing 208, I was hoping that at least I might have been given a greater opportunity with the bat. Instead, I strode out at no. 9 which we needed over a run a ball. I managed to hang around for a little bit with the early hinge of the bat that had helped me. But I got out playing across the line rather than playing straight. In the end, we lost by 51 runs.

While it is earlier in the season, I felt out of my depth. But this is my team and I want to be a part of it. This is because the leadership team has already demonstrated the true value of the club which was to build a family-friendly atmosphere. The only thing I need to do was to self-motivate myself back into a positive mindset. As for the limited opportunities, I need to grasp them to make myself be counted.

A fresh start, September 25 2021

Last year was a shocker off the field while I was trying to balance both my cricket and family commitments which proved to be a disaster. It was a shame that my actions left me no choice but to leave PAOC and start afresh having fallen out of favour. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge that PAOC gave me the opportunities which Adelaide Uni couldn’t guarantee, and I responded with runs, wickets and catches in the handful of games I was there for, thereby justifying their faith and confidence in me.

However, I needed to start afresh at a new club with a new mentality, which I managed to do by joining the Adelaide Warriors. So far, they have shown to be a very family friendly club and so far, several people in the club have gone out of their way to look after me. I remember one time when a couple of people from the club who were also on the Indian Mela organising committee, took me aside, shared their food and we talked cricket and the club. One of them assured my wife that cricket will not get in the way of family which matters the most. That statement gave me the confidence to just go out and enjoy whatever I am doing, whether it’s cricket or family.

While, training had started a few weeks back, I didn’t really rush towards grabbing my kitbag since there was work to do at home. Previously, I used to be desperate to go to training as I was over-serious about my game. If I was disappointed over a net session, I would be looking to go to the nets every day until the eve of the match to regain my confidence. Now, I should take the positives to keep my mind fresh and confidence high towards the match.

Today, my new mentality worked at training. Having been short of a gallop as I hadn’t bowled for a while, I regained my rhythm having adjusted my grip and eyesight and started swinging the ball both ways at pace which caught the eye of the new leadership group for the season as I troubled all the batters I bowled to, even though I couldn’t rattle the stumps. With the guidance of the seniors, I learnt how to be a thinking bowler which will help save runs and possibly gain wickets. My pace was the result of the intense diet and fitness over the last two months that resulted in a weight loss of 8 kgs. I had initially swaped the BowlFit program with the program that I received some time ago from Southern Cricket, as my technique was honed through them. As the weight ballooned towards the high end of the 80s, I added both HIIT on the Treadmill and power training which resulted in the significant weight loss.

On the eve of the training session, Vikram Rajpurohit messaged me to advise that I was to be added to the LO1 squad, which seemed that the team manager, Suresh Wadala would have had a say as he had told me that he was going to recommend my name. From what I learnt previously, LO1 is a tough division, more tough compared to the C grades in ATCA. Nevertheless, having performed well in higher grades in ACT Premier Cricket, LO1s will be no different if we bowl with a 4-piece ball compared to a 2-piece ball I was using in LO6s.

Given that I maybe a critical piece of the LO1 jigsaw, I will need to look after my body in terms of diet, fitness and workload. Before leaving training, I was experiencing soreness in my inner thighs and right now as I write, my soreness has transferred to the shoulder. As I’m only going to play one day matches where I’ll bowl no more than overs, I will need to be smart with my bowling workloads in the lead up to every match. If I don’t play every week, that will be good for the body.

Prince Alfred Old Collegians vs Hectorville at Park 15, December 5 & 12 2020

November 18, 2020

As a result of the latest relevations about COVID spreading through a pizza as well as the growing of the current Parafield Cluster, we are going to into a six-day lockdown. Yesterday, all community sport including cricket was temporary cancelled for two weeks, which meant that we will lose two weeks of cricket. Having managed to build up a decent bowling rhythm with a now bustling run-up and delivery stride, this is a bitter blow together with the closure of gyms. Which meant, that I was going to be confined to home workouts until the gyms can reopen

November 30, 2020

First day back in the gym and felt very energetic as I was able to progressively overload on several of my strength-based exercises. This is courtesy of a high carb while maintaining adequate protein diet that I had to put on as a result of my gradual weight loss over the past few weeks. Whilst my weight has pushed over to the standard BMI levels of 25, I should remember that about 0.8-1kg is the weight of the skin. Thereby technically, I am still within the BMI level of 25 based on this fact when I did my recently EVOLT weigh-in last month.

Irrespective of this, I was foolish to cut carbs which triggered the weight loss since carbs is actually a critical component in a cricketer’s diet. Considering that I am an allrounder these days, I need sufficient fuel in order to bowl and bat in a single match like I have been doing in the past. Being able to get through a few shadow bowls with the pre-lockdown bowling action implies that the latest addition of carbs has not hampered the action. The action will be put to the test on Thursday, weather permitting.

December 4, 2020

Yesterday I felt a bit rusty with the bat considering that I haven’t played nor trained for 3 weeks. I had completely forgotten how I held the bat which helped me start the season off with a bang. Nevertheless, I managed a few good drives off Dan Mosey whilst managing some short arm pulls off Connor Craigie. I just don’t understand why he always likes to bowl short every time I go into bat. I am starting to get a bit fed up with him even though I am starting to play him better. My performance in the nets was down to a sore shoulder from having to carry the kit to training after parking the car right on Dequetville Terrace.

But that sore shoulder didn’t really affect my bowling nor fielding. I bowled mainly straight but also got a few to swing away while I managed an overarm direct hit during fielding drills at the end of training.

Today, I was selected to play in Cs under Maxy for the second time this season (the first time was in Rd 1 which was washed out) but it meant that I have an opportunity to play two-day cricket this season as long as today’s and tomorrow morning’s rain doesn’t affect the pitch which should have been covered by 7pm tonight as per the ATCA instructions. Considering that I am expected to miss the next round of fixtures, this is a welcome sign for me. Should tomorrow be a wash out, I will at least be able to play next weekend rather than having to wait till the start of the new year if I was in LO6s.

I managed to get some Intel into our opponents Hectorville from Jeet Patel who used to play for them. He told me to watch out for Gary Dwiar and Stephen Lessing who are pretty good at dispatching bad balls while he thinks that there are also some good medium pacers/spinners that we need to be mindful off.

But from our line-up, we’ve also got some awesome bowling depth. Maxy and Yogi I presume will open the bowling, then there is Raj Gopal, Stephen Otanelli and myself to follow. I am hoping to be the 5th bowler but will be surprised if I came on first or second change. Nevertheless, my focus would be to bowl dry for whatever number of overs I am given.

December 5, 2020

There had been some doubt about whether we would be able to play at all. When I went to the shops in the morning, rain had fallen on the car and while I was at the shops, it continued to rain. Nevertheless, the pitch at Park 15 which wasn’t covered at all, was not affected by the rain which meant we were on.

Once again, I arrived at the ground late which was the last thing I wanted having frustrated Maxy with my lack of time management last season. By the time I arrived, Maxy won the toss and chose to field due to the past and the current overhead conditions. However, prior to us going out to field, the sun came out which was slightly frustrating.

Thereafter the Hectorville openers P Ritchie and Soulsby provided their side with a solid opening of 49 but not without incident. In the first over, Campbell Porter effected a direct hit at the non-striker’s end which wasn’t given. Then Josh Clarke dropped P Ritchie off Steve Ottanelli before he had the batsman then bowled off a no-ball. After nine overs of Otters and Yogi, Maxy brought on Raj at Yogi’s end, and himself at Otters’ end.

One thing that hasn’t changed from last season was Maxy’s modus operandi of bowling straight which led to a profitable season with the ball earning 27 wickets. Today he bowled four batsmen. He first clean bowled both the openers as well as Patel.

After Raj bowled his seven overs for 22, I finally got my chance. After bowling a tidy over that went for just three runs, I induced an edge from Barwick in my second over which went low down to Jacob Leak at slip to his left which he couldn’t cling on. But there was a mix-up and Leaky fired a throw into Sudsy (Josh) to effect a run-out. Soon after, I induced another edge, this time from Staggard off a perfectly pitched outswinger which Sudsy and Leaky dropped much to my frustration. While I managed to beat the bat a few more times, my first spell came to an end after four overs when Maxy decided to attack with Otters and Yogi prior to tea albeit unsuccessfully. They were 4 for 100 at the break.

Following the resumption of play, Otters had enough after one over and Maxy took over. That proved pivotal as Maxy clean bowled Staggard. Then it started to rain, and it got heavier which forced the players off the field. Thankfully it was only for 15 mins. Following an inspection, we were back on the field. It did start to rain again but it was drizzling, and the ball started to get damp. It was precisely around this time that Maxy brought me back on for a second spell. By then, we had a change of keeper as well. After dropped a few chances and had conceded 23 byes, Sudsy had enough keeping. Connor offered to take over, but Maxy went for Raj who also offered to keep. Over the course of his stint, Raj found the courage to keep up to Maxy which is never easy since Maxy bowls at a skidy pace. He even kept up to me as well.

Meanwhile, Maxy obtained his fifth wicket courtesy of a good low catch by Connor Craigie at short mid-off to dismiss Stephen Lessing, one of the danger guys Jeet had been telling me about. He later finished with 5 for 35 from his 14 overs. At the other end, while I was able to swing the damp ball away from Lessing’s bat, I wasn’t able to get a critical breakthrough after three overs. So Maxy gave me one more and still there was no result after four deliveries. Knowing it was going to be my last over regardless, I instinctively decided to bowl the split fingered slower ball. I delivered it, Pazeski swung at it across the line and was bowled. I mentioned this in the huddle and Leaky told me it was a cheeky move to that affect (don’t know what exactly he said). Anyways, I got a wicket at that matter. I got another over as a result but with no further luck. For now, that was the end of my spell and I never bowled again as Connor and Otters cleaned up the tail.

Connor was the surprise package since by default he delivers a bouncer barrage. So, when he cleaned up Crawford (who was holding the innings together with 40) with an inswinger, I told him that he is a much better bowler than I thought he was. His immediate response was “Shut up!”. Later on, he bowled another inswinger to trap Singh LBW before Otters cleaned up Premaratne to end their innings at 168. As the innings finished after 5 o’clock, Maxy decided to finish the day there as opposed to batting. Perhaps the safe choice considering our batting line-up.

When I checked the book, the actual top scorer was extras with 45 and I also checked my figures which was 9-3-17-1. A good thrifty return to C1s which was the result of hardly bowling a short ball and mostly bowling the length I had been bowling on Thursday: full to good length with some swing. Maxy was thereby pleased with my efforts.

In the end, we were lucky to play after the rain delay unlike most of our sides which were washed out except for our LO6s who proceeded to end their winless run with a comprehensive win over Modbury by 60 runs. As a result, we were lucky to have Patty Sadlier come on as a substitute fielder when Yogi had to leave early.

A job well done with ball in hand. Now it’s time to score runs. Maxy is expecting everyone to come to practice at least once over the coming week to get a hit which is my intention. I am hoping, weather permitting, I hope to go on Tuesday.

December 12, 2020

If there was a lesson to be learnt, it was not to commit towards two-day cricket ever again. In hindsight, I should have made myself available only for last week which meant a game in LO6s instead of C1s. I had been caught in the crossfire between setting up the new home which we got on Thursday and help the C1s chase 168 in 72 overs on a hot and humid day. From the club’s perspective, I had put my house ahead of my club and even though I had advised Maxy of my predicament in the lead up to the weekend, C1s took the defeat really badly and they weren’t really happy once they were bowled out for 143 in 51 overs.

Tough lesson learnt. One day cricket is the way forward with two-day cricket now in the oblivion as family takes precedence. I am not disappointed as this will allow me to play alongside my friend Vivek while enjoying myself in LO6s.

Prince Alfred Old Collegians vs Adelaide Lions at Prince Alfred College (Back Oval), November 7, 2020

November 3, 2020

Even though I had taken a catch over the weekend, I had done it with a juggle which wasn’t very pleasing to me. It must be noted that this particular technique gets me into trouble at the same time. As a result, I messaged our team coach Latchy if he could help me fix my catching technique. He said no problem.

So, I rocked up to training, did my warm-up run around the oval and a few stretches with Vivek before approaching Latchy. Unfortunately, I caught him when he was going to pad up and bat. Thereby, he suggested that I could wait for him to finish before seeking his helping. However, as VD was about to start a fielding session with a couple of others, Latchy suggested that I could go and work with VD instead.

This turned out to be the right call as VD helped us a lot with our catching. He had noticed that by default, I was attempting to take every high ball catch with my palms down which looks ungainly when the ball is from shoulder height onwards. He suggested that for these kinds of high balls, I should look to take them palms up which soon became easier to adjust and adapt to. He also had worked on our slips catching too, making sure that we started from a low enough position for us to take any sort of catch especially those below our ankles.

While bowling was promising as I get a few deliveries to swing, I felt I had a good net session with the bat. Carrying on from Saturday in terms of both tactically and technically, I drove with conviction and defended the deliveries that was going to hit my stumps. While I mis hit a couple of pull-shots, I managed to middle one from the middle of the bat off Tom Taylor’s bowling. All of this was good enough to impress Sads.

November 6, 2020

As expected, Vivek and I were selected in LO6s since I was going to be free tomorrow and not next week. After the selections were released last night, I got in touch with the captain, BA about my selection and said that I was hoping to get a trundle despite last week’s effort. BA assured me of bowling opportunities since Jemmett, Brabs, Raj and Hugh were going to play 2-day cricket in Cs and Ds. That meant, I have a good opportunity to perform a similar role like the late Eddy Barlow for South Africa and the recently retired Shane Watson for Australia did in international cricket. Opening the batting while being part of the bowling attack.

Looking at the lineup, our bowling lineup seemed rich on seamers. Apart from BA and myself, there is Vivek and Brent Hillier. The question being who will open the bowling with Jemett and Brabs returning to 2-day action. I had told BA about my intentions to take the new ball but it’s ultimately his decision come tomorrow. He had already encouraged me to open the batting again. I suppose why not. Not just based on my results but also the fact that we’re playing at the back oval of the college. That meant, good batting pitch, fast outfield and small boundaries.

Last time I batted there, I made the only score past 50 in a two-dayer in Cs against Athelstone, 67 not out off 113 balls with 10 fours and a six from number 8, taking the score from 6 for 72 to 188 all out, which proved to be a match-winning performance. A return to familiar territory which had been just about 12 months ago. Could this be the opportunity to redevelop a batting consistency I had a few years ago? Time will tell although I am vary about our opponents, Adelaide Lions. I should focus on batting for time, if I score runs, then that’s a bonus.

Even though I was feeling sore in the upper back courtesy of the Overhead Dead Ball Slams together with the Bench Pulls exercise, I went for some bowling while sporting the posture band. After several deliveries, I managed to find my rhythm that allowed me to pump my arms at chest level before pulling my right arm prior to releasing the ball. It resulted in outswing and while I was able to get inswing to go, I usually sprayed the ball way down the legside. This is exactly what had happened last weekend when I tried the same delivery which led to my downfall in the two over spell.

Having bowled the equivalent of six overs, I was called upon by a couple of guys at the neighbouring net for a bowl. I obliged, as it would give me adequate practice ahead of tomorrow’s encounter. Even though the batter was standing slightly outside his crease, I induced a few leading edges through late bounce and movement before slipping in a full outswinger that slid underneath him, pitched on middle and hit the off stump. He was stunned. As far as tactics go, I should keep it simple by sticking to my stock ball, the outswinger until I can accurately pitch the inswinger. Depending on the day, a slower ball or two may be required.

November 7, 2020

By the time I had arrived right on 12.30, we were going to bowl first. Before stepping out to the field, we had a bit of a ceremony as this week was NAIDOC week. It was simply about respecting the traditional owners of the land, the aboriginals, through a statement read out by BA. We soon started play. BA and Brent Hillier opened up despite having offered to open the bowling yesterday. BA started to pull his calf muscle having just started his third over, which meant I was due to bowl soon, but then asked me to give him one more over as he tried to bowl off three paces. It was later effective as he was able to bowl out his 9 overs on the trot, only giving away 21 runs despite conceding two boundaries in his first while having Seneviratne bowled around his legs in his final over.

I instead took over Brent’s end which was after he had Hennayake caught off an airy square drive by Clement Ting at a deepish point, a result of the funky fields BA had set keeping in mind the short boundaries at the back oval. I nearly had a wicket in my first over as Seneviratne chipped a leading edge back down the pitch which I managed to fling myself towards courtesy of my follow through, but I couldn’t hang on. Sharp chance gone begging.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t to be denied. Gunasinghe played across an inswinger and was given LBW. I got a wicket, and I didn’t celebrate like I normally would. I had decided to tone it down having been inspired by the no-celebration celebration by Pakistani left-armer Ruman Raees. I bowled a maiden next over to Papadimas where I managed to finally get my outswinger to go before going to drinks unscathed after six overs. Not quite though. I busted at the bottom of my bowling hand trying to take an impossible reflex catch to a very hardly hit ball back at me. It remained painful for the rest of the match.

Adelaide Lions were 3 for 54 at drinks, but when BA decided against me bowling later as he wanted to give others a chance, they went Twenty20 mode and quadrupled their score at drinks as the batters teed off. Vivek replaced me and managed to bowl a couple of overs, but he was not spared and was replaced by Scott Greber. Nelson Ellis bowling his uncomplicated Jeff Thomson like action, got his first wicket for the club. Ali Raza miscued a pull shot straight towards me which I was able to hold on despite a little bobble courtesy of the busted hand. It was the same delivery that got me into trouble at practice on Tuesday which in a way retribution for me. He bowled reasonably well in his six over spell.

Meanwhile Papadimas and Nipuma teed off as they reached a century stand in about 12 overs as nobody was spared including me who come on to bowl at the death to complete my last three overs. I had gone for 17 as well as getting a ball lodged into the roof which prompted BA to take out last week’s ball. Eventually, I went for 12 an over in my last three, ensuring a personally difficult ask to concede 3.5 runs per over for the rest of the season. I tried an assortment of slower balls and full deliveries, but the batters got some help with the short boundaries. I managed to get Nipuma LBW with a slower ball, but I was smashed over my head for six the next ball by the new batsman. The Lions finished with 5 for 221 from their 40 overs, a tough ask.

Having bowled at the death, I needed a break knowing my history of cramp from the past. Instead, Paddy England and Johnny Coop opened the batting, which provided a solid start with little urgency as they batted 18 overs for 32 runs. However, we typically suffered a massive batting collapse. Paddy having compiled 21 decent runs, held out to Seneviratne at mid-off off Gunasinghe before the bowler swung through the gate to dismiss Damien Heath four balls later. We went to drinks at 2 for 33 with Clement getting off the mark on his first ball.

First ball after drinks, Clement pulled a short ball straight to midwicket and having smashed a similar ball for a flat six, Johnny was given out LBW despite getting a clear inside edge. Nelson who played some impressive shots to the boundary was bowled trying to go for it. It was 5 for 63 and I was in. I had wondered even before the match whether to ditch the helmet today knowing that there’s no mandatory requirement to wear a helmet, a decision taken by the ATCA prior to the season commencement. Which meant, opportunities to bat like the Antiguan greats of Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Richie Richardson was still possible, in terms of the headgear. Thereby, I strode out with a floppy hat like Sir Richie which could backfire on me if I got an injury on my face, but I was lucky in many ways at least from the injury perspective. More on that later.

Scott, father of Josh and Liam (who plays 1st grade for Adelaide Uni) held out despite making a pact with me to play risk free cricket for the remaining 14 overs of the innings. In came BA who told me to ease off on the quick singles. Too easy. He hit a boundary and took a couple from a bottom edge before was out LBW trying to sweep a full ball. Brent also was out LBW, having been hit on the toe. Vivek came in and survived for a little while, in the process scoring his first run for the club. But he also fell LBW.

It was 9 for 82 and in strode Venkat Lingampally. Earlier, I had played a late cut off Sooriyabandara to get off the mark with a boundary and later managed a clip on the leg side for a single. I nearly got out to him, failing to get over a drive on the up only for the man at cover to drop a relatively simple chance. However, that failed to deter me to drive him through cover-point for another boundary.

Back to Venkat. He suggested that I protected him for the last six overs where I tried to hit boundaries before pinching a single off the last ball of the over. After a bit of grumbling from the sidelines having refused a second run which would have got Venkat on strike, I had to tell Venkat that he should back himself and that he should try to score as much as we could. It worked, Venkat played straight and scored his runs through deflections through the vacant third-man region, even for a couple of boundaries.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to finish matters off, they brought back their opening bowler Weerasinghe but I dispatched him for a couple of boundaries only after appearing to edge one off him that just fell short of the keeper Papadimas. One was a pull shot through wide mid-on, the other was a clip through backward square leg. I managed one other boundary which was a thick edge through the slip for four in the last over of the innings before pushing the last ball of the match for a single.

I had finished unbeaten on 24 off 43 balls, again topping the scores for the second time of the innings. More importantly, I made another double figure score unlike previously where I followed a decent score with a single digit one. Progress is being made in this regard. They were surprised as to why I was batting so low which I had to explain that I needed a rest having bowled at the end of their innings.

Nevertheless, Venkat and I put on 29 for the final wicket in those six overs, which was easily the second highest stand of the sorry innings. I was telling Venkat that he needed to believe in his batting considering he was there at the end against Blue Brigade Sports Club in a low scoring thriller.

Despite the disappointing team performance, I take solace in my own all-round performance. I took a catch, took the most wickets (2) and scored the most runs (24 not out) which shows that I am in a good cricketing space even though I am off to Canberra next week to see my niece for the very first time.

Pembroke OS vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Park 17, October 31, 2020

October 4, 2020

The season is fast approaching with the Twenty20s going to kick off the season next Saturday. Twenty20s are a format I’m happy to miss as the opportunities to contribute are pretty less. These days, I fancy playing both 1- and 2-day cricket as opportunities to contribute are more.

Speaking of 2-dayers, the opportunities to play are becoming unlikely with a raft of quality imports coming through the club. Having been a permanent member of both Cs and Ds last season, I face the prospect of fighting to keep my spot despite positive backing from both Maxy and Patty.

I don’t really fancy competition (especially if performance is a strong consideration) as it takes the enjoyment component out of it. As far as I concerned, I want decent game time having left behind family and family matters behind to spend 5-6 hours playing the sport I love. The competition for selections, is threatening to kill the enjoyment factor.

I’ve only learned all about this when I asked Latchy, our captain cum coach. Given all the above together with the uncertainty surrounding my guaranteed availability for 2-day cricket, I had requested him to only consider me for Limited Over matches only.

It will work in many ways. The new guys will get an opportunity to show their wares in the higher grades while I can enjoy prospering in the lowest grades with both bat and ball. Irrespective of who fields in the slip cordon, I see it as a good opportunity to focus on meeting my goal of conceding no more than 3.5 runs per over this season by trying to hit the hard length with late bounce and movement to make it difficult for batters to hit over the top.

Aside of all that, there may be a prospect of my work colleague and friend, Vivek Devarajan going to join me at the Reds and if he plays in the LO6s, I would prefer to play with him to help him settle into our environment. Mind you, he’s still needing to make friends and is generally lonely. When you put all this into perspective, you would understand why my decision should not be considered a cop-out. After all, I will still work on my fielding and will where possible try to face some decent batters and bowlers in the nets which can help my quest for domination.

October 6, 2020

Today is the first day of outdoor training and I am excited and raring to go. At least to use my 4-piece white cricket balls. With potentially four sessions before my first game of the season, my focus is to work on a few technical specifics. Specifically, making sure that the thumb of my left hand touches my nose during the pre-delivery jump that will enable me to bowl wicket to wicket to make the batsmen play while preventing them with any width to free the arms. Then, there is also my bottom hand grip where it’s only the thumb and first finger that takes responsibility in hinging the bat thereby allowing for better execution in both the shot and footwork.

Having arrived half-an-hour late to practice, I was going to go do some fielding thinking that there’s enough bowlers across the four nets until Patty Sadlier called me on to bowl. I took some time to settle down with gentle outswingers to Don Kieu. But by the time, Jacob Leak came into the bat, I was settled as the late bounce and movement that I gained last week started to trouble him. I even overheard him telling Chris Spencer, who plays in B grade that he was finding it difficult to get those deliveries away. That gave me strength that I can be a handful. I just need to get the line right which was what I did briefly to Maxy Clarke before I was called upon to bat. There, I got the ball to zip away from the right hander with some bounce as well.

After bowling to Maxy, I got my pads on and went to bat. The focus was on the bottom hand which was why I had mixed success as I forgot about my grip and hinge. I didn’t hit the ball well as I would have liked, and I even edged a couple of deliveries of left-armer Brendon Francesca to where gully would have been. But I managed to cut him thrice in front of point and did not get bowled. More work needs to be done, but progress at least.

Towards the end of the session, we did some fielding which was I wanted to do every session. It wasn’t too bad given that I put in some accurate throws to Harry Hockney over the stumps and even scored a direct hit with an underarm throw.

Sadly, the session had come to an end shortly after 7 but I decided to hang around a bit more to practice bowling until it got dark. I managed to get the late movement and bounce, but I started to feel sore in the upper back which then caused me to bowl short. It is an indication that I would need to start wearing my posture band which has helped me previously during pre-season.

October 8, 2020

After shadow bowling with an action similar to that of Jofra Archer’s, I wondered if I should resume my pursuit for pace especially after getting through my action reasonably quickly. But then I realised not only that my previous pursuits weren’t that successful, I would end up throwing away both the good work and my recently acquired weapon of late bounce and movement and starting again from scratch. After all, it was Luke who reminded me some time ago that pace isn’t going to get batters into trouble, it is bounce.

I managed to arrive at training just before 6pm having left home late and after doing a couple of rounds of the schpol trying to find parking for me to enter the Red Center, our training base as the morning rains prevented the opportunity to train outdoors. I managed to find a parking near the Back Oval and had to walk a bit with a heavy kitbag in tow.

When I arrived, I deduced that there were enough bowlers and immediately joined in the short catching exercise where surprisingly, I saw Josh Bean hitting the catches. I was just surprised to see him back given that I was thinking he was done after his patchy form with the bat last season. Anyways, good to see him back. Hopefully he can have better luck with the bat this season.

Beany was hitting those catches hard which made the session a hit and miss for me. I caught some and dropped some as I had no time to react with whatever’s coming my way. This is definitely why I don’t field in the slip cordon due to my poor reactions. It got to a point where enough is enough, time to bowl because my hands were wringing in pain.

Unfortunately, the late bounce and movement from an action similar to Shaun Pollock’s didn’t work for me as I got carted around by Jacob Leak and Will Linke. Hence, as a last resort, I started to bowl with the Archer like action which lead to better outcomes especially against our newly appointed co-captain for D-grade Twenty20, Harry Hockney. I had got a ball to lift when he tried to work me to the legside before continuously hitting the length which Harry could only offer the forward defence. There was progress.

Sadly, I didn’t get to bat with Latchy telling me the bad news given that it’s almost fielding time. I was hoping to rectify my batting technique tonight, but unfortunately it would have to wait till Tuesday, as promised by Latchy. Given that I wasn’t going to play Twenty20s, I thought it would have been pointless to go and field but, in the end, I went with the flow.

I quite liked the fielding exercises we did in the end because I was able to field everything that came my way with some reasonable throws. I even caught a catch as well which was much easier than the short catches earlier in the session. Towards the end, Chris Drew called me aside to try on the Twenty20 strip as a guide for him to know what size I would need for my personal shirt once sponsors are finalised.

Having finished fielding, I returned to bowling seeing Alex Marantos and a young tearaway quick practising in the nets. After bowling one ball, Antony Brabham went up to me and suggested I relax and get loose. He also suggested to sprint through the crease as opposed to running with high knees. He’s simply telling me to just go and bowl and not worry about technique. Next ball, I bowled an outswinger at good length that quickly travelled to the back of the net after pitching. Brabs also noticed that I was following through quite close to the end of the net as a result of the momentum from both the sprint and a low pre-delivery jump. So far, this is a different side of Brabs to the one who told me to pitch the ball up last season. It will remain to be seen when he will eventually ask me to do that.

With everyone disappearing to Schitty Night at the Seven Stars, I ventured out the back to continue bowling for a little longer until my upper back continued to give way. I actually didn’t get around to wearing my posture band simply because I forgot to put it on before leaving from training. Maybe wearing that band isn’t going to be enough. Anyways, I should remember to start using it.

October 11, 2020

As I am unlikely to train as family and friends come first, I had to find some means to practice so that I do not go in cold come Saturday. I had informed Latchy of my absence from training and trying my luck, I requested some one-on-one time with him outside of club training. Either an hour before regular practice or potentially on Wednesday or Friday evening.

Having assumed that the particular session may not materialize, I head out to Campbelltown Oval nets to do some bowling. Thankfully one net was free with the other one taken up by a pair of players from the East Torrens District Cricket club. I started the session using the posture band having forgotten to wear it on Thursday and started to bowl with my Archer like action. While I was able to follow through well and get the ball to move, I wasn’t quote snapping through my action like I did on Thursday.

So, I returned to my Pollock like action briefly without success and then back to the Archer like action again with no luck after removing the posture band. I was discouraged with no meaningful success behind me. Thereby, as a last resort, I replicated the action of Ashes Pantomime Villain Stuart Broad, known for his refusal to walk back in the 1st Test of the 2013 Ashes.

His action was rhythmic with the front arm pushing up to allow him to swing the ball. I tasted better success immediately. Not only I swing the ball, I found better control in terms of line and length courtesy of my front arm. The further the arm is from me, the more pitched up the ball is. Then if I move the front arm across horizontally left and right, I can dictate the line of the ball.

Sometime ago, I watched a bowling masterclass video conducted by Damien Fleming, now known as the bowologist and paid attention to how to bowl the inswinger. The biggest tip was that my bowling hand should finish inside of my front knee as opposed to the outswinger where the hand finishes at my left hip. That tip helped me to bowl the inswinger as long as rotated my shoulder inwards during my pre-delivery jump. This is a tremendous finding just before the start of the season.

To add further to my joy, Latchy agreed with a one-on-one session with me on Wednesday afternoon at the back oval. I have a good opportunity to test my bowling theory with a high-grade cricketer in the captain cum coach while also getting an opportunity to work on my batting grip. I am looking forward to getting some private time with him with an potential chance to discuss tactics.

October 13, 2020

Actually, Wednesday’s session may not be required after all since the initial Tuesday evening plan had been postponed by a week which would then allow me to attend training tonight ahead of my first game of the season. I now have an opportunity to hone my skills against a variety of batters and bowlers on the turf wickets at the front of the college instead of bowling to just Latchy on the synthetic wickets at the back.

As it turned out it was a productive session even though I was still coming to grips with my batting grip where the thumb and ring finger of the top hand grips the bat with two fingers and thumb on the bottom hand pinching the bat. Instead of pinching, I was gripping which produced inconsistent results together with the starting point of the hinge. Despite this outcome, I am hopeful of my chances come Saturday because I knew what I did wrong and what I need to do.

Batting aside, my bowling and fielding practice went very well. I was able to replicate my Broad like action and hardly bowled a loose short ball. Instead I erred on the full of a length side, but I got the ball to move mostly inswing, thereby continuing the progress from Sunday.  Critically, I continued to follow through after bowling every single delivery which itself is a massive improvement from before. Not only, I can prevent injury from this, I now open the opportunity to pounce on any half-chance for a caught and bowled dismissal should there be a leading edge.

The good thing about coming to training instead of training with Latchy tomorrow is that I also did some fielding. In the presence of both A and B graders, I didn’t disgrace myself at all. Yes, I misfielded a couple of balls, but I caught every high ball catch except the last one which was due to poor communication which had Shayan Najeeb Ghuman and myself trying to go for it at the same time. The success in the high ball catching was down to getting in steady positions at the earliest possible opportunity, a tip I received last season. Top it off, I even managed a direct hit at the solitary stump. That aspect still needs some work because I continue to rush through my throws instead of giving me a chance to set up where my target is.

October 17, 2020

Looks like that I have come full circle. I am going to play where I started with the Reds, Park 15. Last season, I took a wicket with my first ball albeit with a long hop that didn’t rise. Furthermore, I will be starting off where I ended last season in C1s under the captaincy of Maxy Clarke. Looking at the line-up, I hope to be one of the change bowlers behind Maxy and Brabs but may need to step up with the bat. I am hopeful that all the tinkering and tweaking of my batting technique can pay off today given that I know what I need to do and what actually had worked not only in the nets but also in the final innings of last season.

It is good that Vivek will be making his debut for the Reds as he was named in the same side as me. I had told Latchy and Lexi (Alex Marantos) that it is my wish to play with Vivek the whole season irrespective of which grade I play in. He is also a bowler but sadly isn’t guaranteed a bowl as it depends on how the match pans out.

Speaking of the match, it probably remains to be seen whether we would get on after two days of rain. When it rained on Thursday, I drove past Park 15 on the way home from IKEA and found out from a distance that there were no covers put in place, a fact confirmed by Maxy when I told him yesterday. From past experience, rain from the previous days can force matches that are played on turf to be at best reduced overs matches or at worst abandoned even without a bowl balled. The fact that no rain is forecasted today, should give us hope that we can have a full game on our hands.

However, yesterday’s consistent rain was enough to force an abandonment without having to rock up at all which was disappointing as I’m unlikely to play until the end of the month. Bs also had their game abandoned too which saw some of their players fill in for the one-day sides. One of those sides had Andrew Heitmann playing his 300th game for the Reds in LO1s against Flinders University, the reigning premiers. While that match didn’t go to plan, it was nevertheless a fantastic achievement for Heito to achieve the landmark as he joined a small yet privileged lot to play this many game. One of those was Andrew Olsson who played a vital hand in LO6s to guide a small yet tricky chase on a sticky wicket by carrying his bat.

October 20, 2020

Vivek came to training today at my behest to get himself comfortable within the club setup. Crucially I ensured I had introduced him to several key personnel. Namely Latchy, Benno, Clev and the club chairman. Given that he hadn’t played cricket for a while, he was initially very rusty. He had sprayed the ball all over and had dropped a high ball which clipped his left eyebrow.  However, with some help from me with the bowling and the likes of Leaky with the catching, he got better. He started catching almost everything that came his way while bowling a bit straighter to make the batters play with the ball.

I didn’t really bowl much since we had a lot of bowlers which meant I spent most of my time fielding. As usual, I got the ball to wobble both ways late but when I tried a change of pace, I was clobbered almost over the fence. Understandably, it’s Twenty20 week which probably was why I was dealt this treatment. Fielding wise, I felt my throwing was a lot better since I gave myself time to size up my target before throwing. It was accurate but strong as the ball hit the baseball glove with force. I continued my good work with the high ball catching from last week and even tightened up my ground fielding. The difficult drill was the turn around and catch but I managed to catch one.

Finally, towards the end I got a bat which gave me an opportunity to perfect my technique. While I played a few good leg-side clips and a few pull shots, I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of the pinch grip of the bottom hand. Instead, it was a loose bottom hand which lead to another hit and miss session. Later I realised that I had to pinch the handle with the two fingers and thumb on the bottom hand while shadow batting. Having struggled for fluency with the heavy Kronus bat, I probably would need to experiment again with the Kaboom next week.

October 27, 2020

I am itching to train again having had Thursday off as I am keen to get some morale boosting batting practice this week ahead of my first game of the season while trying to perfect the bottom hand pinch grip. My initial thoughts were wrong as the two fingers and thumb simply slide in which later tightens if we want to apply the bottom hand into the shot. I would need to practice with both the Kaboom and the Kronus to feel comfortable with the grip.

I had just now discovered that I could whip my front arm across to my left hip as long as I could externally rotate my shoulder. I had honestly forgotten about this bio-mechanical tidbit even since Luke initially thought me how to bowl his way. This discovery simply happened by chance. Now it is time to put it into practice. Perhaps more so on my own preferably before going to bowl against batters.

Sadly, it rained during the journey to practice which meant that we spent the whole night fielding. Nevertheless, it was a good opportunity to practice the pulling motion which resulted in some decent throws to whoever was hitting the balls to me, as long as I take my time to set myself up. The wet outfield was a challenge for the ground fielding initially, but I got accustomed to it overtime. Catching was a bit of a hit and miss. While I dropped what seemed to be the easiest of the skiers, I managed to take the skiers over my head, the same technique that got me into trouble almost fatally two years ago. Taking those catches, was a confidence booster especially when they were very difficult chances.

October 29, 2020

Having not had a bat on Tuesday, I really needed to have a hit for that morale boosting batting net and thankfully I got it at the very end. I decided to use the Kaboom reasoning that a lighter bat will help my technique with a sore body, mainly the chest after doing those punishing push-ups from dropping sharp close-in catches. The session was worth it. While I was made to play at every ball that came my way, I was solid in defence and attack on the front foot especially my offside drives off Jack Emmett and Antony Brabham. I also played a few square cuts against the part-time spin of Johnny Coop but was rushed on a pull shot off Jemmett’s bowling. Basing my stance and backlift of the great Sachin Tendulkar together with the grip really helped me today.

From a bowling perspective, I felt progress with the pulling motion had been made despite the sore chest, resulting in late swing and movement and that is without needing to telegraph the wrist position. Sometimes, I also get the ball to reverse but it is merely accidental rather than deliberate. The only concern was that I am bowling a bit too straight which meant that if it doesn’t swing then I am easily pickings. It would probably make sense to err of bowling a bit wide but not too wide. As long as the soreness goes away come Saturday, I should be good to go.  

A few hours later, I see that I am playing in LO6s which will be my first time at the club. I am part of what seems to be a reasonably strong side with Ed Thomas and Jacob Leak having played Cs last season leading the batting while the bowling attack which is mainly seam comprises of myself, Ben Allen who will captain, Brabs, Jemmett and Hugh McDonald who made his debut in Ds last match. It will be a different experience bowling with a two piece on a turf wicket as long as I get a bowl.

October 31, 2020

Today was going to be different as I start to play under COVID-19 affected conditions which included BYO afternoon tea and water. I don’t quite feel affected by this since I had been doing these BYOs back in Canberra. It would have been a shock for those who expect communal food and drinks, hence it will require adjustment. Prior to the match, I had a close look at our line-up and come to a conclusion through MyCricket stats that our line-up is purely bowling heavy. Based on these conclusions, I would need to put my hand up to open which is what I did and when Leaky was going to arrive late, I got my chance, opening with Ed Thomas when BA chose to bat. I was hoping he was going to field and then put me up to bat since I had to leave early at about 5-5.30 to go for dinner at a family friend’s house, but this wasn’t the case.

On a green tinge surface with a two-piece ball, chaos ensured. Ed edged Agness to gully; Clement Ting bottom edged a pull shot off Blight onto his stumps; Campbell Porter chased a wide one from Bourke and shovelled a skier to mid-off; Rajasekhar Kesavan wandered out of his crease despite me saying No twice and made no effort to retreat back; Leaky left a straight one from Burford and was bowled; Then I edged Ambiss to the keeper trying to cut one that was too close. It was 6 for 57.

There was some relief through a 7th wicket stand of 29 from BA and Brabs which later proved to be the highest partnership of the innings as we then had another mini collapse. Brabs missed an inswinger from the left-arm of Blight; Jemmett was brilliantly caught on the deep mid-wicket by Tristan Colmer who stuck out his right hand in hope which left the batter gobsmacked for a while; BA slapped Blight to short fine-leg and then Hugh drilled a drive to mid-off to give Blight his fourth wicket. As a result, we were all out for 103 in 30.4 over. Could we win it? I had my doubts.

But we started very well. Jemmett performed the 3-card trick (2 outswingers then an inswinger) to open our account. Next over, Brabs claimed an LBW. BA came on replacing Brabs in the 10th over and got a nick first ball straight to Coopy. Raj came on replacing Jemmett and despite being hit for a boundary, induced a top edge, resulting in a swirling skier that was well caught by Hugh. Raj then bowled the perfect delivery, pitched middle hit off for our fifth wicket. Even though we couldn’t get an immediate breakthrough, we were on top at drinks at 5 for 44.

I would have been in chance of an opportunity to come onto bowl at this point, but BA decided to try to close out the match with Jemmett and Brabs. I would have done the same thing as well if I was in his position. It worked. Brabs attempted a yorker which resulted in a full toss that rapped the pads. After consultation with square leg for height, he was given LBW. The fact that the batter was out of his crease, worked into our hands since in the normal position, the ball would have landed around the shins. It was a very good decision.

Brabs nearly had a third had Coopy clung on to a tough sharp chance, but Brabs was not to be denied. The slow ball, quick ball trick outdid the batter who inside edged onto his stumps. Jemmett got an LBW having rapped the pads and then I helped Brabs take his fourth by clinging onto a dolly with a juggle having moved a bit from short cover. For me it was good reward having prowled around during the innings in close and out on the boundary. It was 9 for about 60 odd with Brabs on the verge of a five-wicket haul. He was later to be denied.

That allowed me to finally get a trundle with an opportunity to seal the match. I didn’t bowl too badly but the last pair managed a few swipes much to my frustration. After two overs, of which I conceded a run-a-ball, I was taken off for Raj. Raj started badly by being hit for six as the final pair inched towards the target such that only a shot over the ropes was enough to win. Even though Raj had an appeal turned down which he thought was out, he later got a plumb LBW decision his way. I immediately ran to Raj to embrace him as we were full of glee. We just managed to successfully defend a total of just over three figures by 5 runs.

A curious glance at the scorebook that showed that four batters reaching double figures but no-one topping 16 was indeed brilliant news for me. Not only I had top scored in our dismal innings and in the low scoring match that was played in overcast conditions throughout, I made the only score past 30. I had earlier compiled 33 off 54 balls opening the innings and had been sixth out for 57. That was 57.89% of the runs scored at that point. I had a nervy start initially by playing a very late forward defence to Blight and only in the last minute withdrew my bat to the one that slid across me which could have resulted in a faint edge to the keeper or onto my stumps.

However, when I got off the mark with a cover drive for two, it felt like the shackles had lifted which then enabled me to relax. Next ball, I pulled the first of my four boundaries. Interesting enough, all of my boundaries were from pull shots. Two in front of square leg, two behind square. The other runs were made from checked drives and nudges (with an edge for three) in the gaps with a few drop-and-runs for singles.

As I was feeling comfortable at the crease, it was thereby disappointing for me to get out to a loose shot (described earlier). Not only I got out when the team was in strife with drinks only two overs away, I threw away a great chance to score my second official fifty which could have made the result a bit more comfortable for us. As it turned out, making the only score past 30 in a bowler dominated match was satisfying enough. The key moving forward is to back up this performance by remembering how I batted in this match. I then need to replicate this in training. I also hope that my bowling doesn’t get overlooked and it is up to me to remind my captains of this fact.

Pre-season Training, September 2020

August 18, 2020

Training is about to start for the coming season. Although it must be said in different circumstances due to COVID-19. For that reason, Gyms were closed between March and June which meant I was confined to just home workouts only which sucked. I was happy when they reopened, and I wasted little time to do some strength training and treadmill running. When the weather cleared off, I started to bowl a bit more in the nets and managed to gradually find my bowling rhythm while hitting ideal lines and lengths together with swinging the ball.

I was considering that this season was involve district cricket with West Torrens. For that reason, I had purchased couple of White coloured 4-piece cricket balls to bowl within anticipation of playing coloured-clothing one-day cricket. However, I started getting anxiety attacks regarding whether I will be able to not only get selected but to get a bowl in these matches despite my former batting coach Nick Maegrith’s previous assurances. I even wondered whether if it would be worth spending Sundays at pre-season training (if that was the case) as opposed to with my family.

The clincher was the tentative ATCA fixtures which will have some Twenty20 matches in amongst the regular one- and two-day matches. Knowing that Twenty20s isn’t really my game, I would be readily sitting out these matches. Instead, I can spend more time doing housework and other things on those Saturdays whilst also keeping myself fresh for the regular matches.

I don’t regret giving up on the district cricket dream as it requires both commitment and a strong mind as I was told that it’s a cut-throat environment out there. Moreover, I would have been needing to step into another unfamiliar environment. Instead, I can surround myself around a fantastic team environment at Prince Alfred Old Collegians.

Speaking of them, we got a new head coach. As a matter of fact, our A grade captain Jack Latchford will be taking the mantle. To me it was no surprise. It was just a matter of time. And I say that because Latchy has been leading our training sessions for most of the season even while his predecessor Trent English was present. I am hopeful that he will do a good job regardless of the end results for the club. Having a player as a coach is a very good thing as I have found in Ginninderra under Mick Delaney as well as Naveen Vinod both captain and coach of the Flinders University club. Both registering premierships during their stint.

It remains to be seen what kind of success Latchy could potentially taste this season, but it would be wise to keep expectations low.

August 19, 2020

Pre-season training was going to be different due to COVID-19. First of all, the use of hand-sanitizer, signing in each training session for the purpose of contact tracing in the event of a positive case as well as the non-sharing of water balls and equipment.

Instead of warming up with throwing and catching which would sharing of cricket balls which is discouraged in the current environment, the warmup was a game of soccer. For me, I don’t any playing other sport other than cricket as I am no good in that sport. But I had no choice. I did get a few touches on the ball while eventually ended up on a winning side.

When it came to the cricket practice, I was average in both batting and bowling. Bowling wise, my consistency leading up to tonight deserted me. I bowled short and full, wide and straight. I was trying to recreate the swing I obtained of late, but I only got some balls to swing. In hindsight, as I couldn’t coordinate both my arms in time to swing the ball on an ideal line and length, I probably might have to use more of my non-bowling arm to ensure that I can get through my action in time.

Batting was average too. I had forgotten how to hold a bat even though I played a good pull shot off Connor Craigie, a cracking square drive off Gary Branford and a down the wicket inside out shot over cover off Sam Knight’s spin. I couldn’t remember how I held the bat against Gepps Cross where I looked in control except for a few deliveries (including the one that got me out LBW). I am reaching out to Luke for what he helped me with back then but I kind of have to continuously tinker the technique and perhaps switch between my bats until I reach the perfect rhythm.

August 26, 2020

I managed to achieve better batting rhythm today. Having managed to tweak my batting technique with Luke’s help while reconciling his advice back in March, I looked like a different batter. I was decisive when leaving or playing, front or back, attack or defence. A complete contrast to my nervy self. The only adjustment I might need to make to ensure that my Vs are straight down the splice is to modify the direction of my downswing, like from the middle-off line instead of middle-leg which was initially making my grip uncomfortable.

Regardless, it was pleasing that I got a few pull shots away both in-front and behind square on the leg-side. I even pulled the only short-ball I faced from Connor Craigie, my net-practice nemesis. Even though I top-edged the pull over the keeper’s head, it was a more confidence movement as opposed to the default ‘duck under every short-ball’ tactic I had been adopting against him until now. I hope it will remain that way for this season at least.

Bowling though, continues to be a concern as I continue finding the ideal rhythm, line and length. Sometimes I fell short of a length, sometimes just length with rare occurrences of the full length that might get wickets. As a result, I felt discouraged with the results and let out my frustrations to both Jacob Leak and our newly appointed assistant coach, Jack Dent told me not to be too upset. ‘Denty’ in particular noted that indoor nets are never the best place for full run-ups and thereby suggested on hitting a line moving forward. This advice came after I told them that when I bowl outdoors, I bowl much better as opposed to indoors.

September 2, 2020

In the lead up for tonight’s session, I was very dispirited with how I bowled outside on Monday given that hitting the fuller length was proving to be difficult on a consistent basis. I find it easier to hit a normal length, sometimes short of a length on a more consistent basis which was how I was able to dry the runs up in Cs last season. I then turned to my captains of last season, Maxy Clarke in Cs and Patty Sadlier in Ds for advice. I asked them if I was going to be playing for them this season knowing the competitiveness for selections, how should I bowl.

Both Maxy and Patty suggested that I should settle on keeping in tight. Maxy said not to worry about bowling full as he’ll bowl that full length while Patty suggested I should try to throw the odd full ball in. Both of them also pointed to my batting potential and suggested to work on it further. For me, I cannot disagree on this fact. I would like to be a bit more consistent with the bat. I can’t really say how many runs or how long I intend to bat for, but I should aim to have a partnership every time I bat (as long as there’s enough time).

I then thought perhaps if I do play in LO5 this season, I should potentially put my hand up to potentially open the batting, as long as we bat first. I am saying this given my past history of cramp having gone into bat having bowled a decent number of overs in the first innings. Otherwise batting in the lower order would suffice. I did mention to Patty that in the event that I’m unlikely going to bowl much in matches, I would like to go up the order but not at the expense of those who are unlikely to bowl at all. He has noted that point.

Speaking of batting, while I was able to continue making good judgment with regards to when and what to play, the execution wasn’t quite up to scratch at times. I only realise after my batting session that I was feeling tense when I keep my arms at waist level that explains what had happened. I had theorised that if I could potentially lower my hands a little so that it touches both my inner thighs, I hope to at least swing the bat more fluently, leading to better timing and execution.

With my frustrations having reached boiling point leading up to tonight, I managed to find a fuller length more than my last two sessions even though I couldn’t quite get the bowl to swing. This was because that I couldn’t coordinate the pushing of my left hand that would allow me to bring my bowling hand around to swing the ball. That had come about having tried to bring my left arm up for my pre-delivery jump to help my accuracy which came about due to a sore upper body from gym sessions the previous day.

September 9, 2020

It was time to go back to the bowling drawing board. The aim is to pull my bowling hand to the hip during my pre-delivery jump, which will allow me to push the left hand and swing the ball like I had used to in the past. Thankfully, the level of soreness in the upper body isn’t there having had my weights session on Monday evening as opposed to last night. Moreover, it also had to do with the change of method of doing incline bench rows.

Despite all of that, I was unable to get the ball to swing while hitting the same length as last training session. I thought initially that the condition of the ball was hampering my ability to extract movement. Even though I later switched to a pink ball to hopefully rediscover my swing, it was to no avail. It probably transpired that my sore legs where throwing my rhythm out of sync with the ball in hand. Nevertheless, more tinkering will be required in order to rediscover the rhythm with a few more weeks to go. I also have to develop the habit of following through as detected by Antony Brabham. My sudden momentum halt in my follow through could likely lead to injury and I should also, take the fear of getting hit out of the equation. Having suffered an eye injury two years ago is holding me back.  I would love to chat to Denty about this at some stage.

As more people wanted a hit, I was shunted to bat against all the available bowlers as the very last batsman. Thankfully, I protected my wicket and held my own. While the likes of Nick Clayfield and Riley Robinson were tough to pick up, I found it easier nevertheless once I get my hinge timing right.

Out of the blue, Leaky threw me a challenge. I had to score 20 off my last eight deliveries where each bowler will bowl me one delivery. While I struggled against the fast, short pitched bowling, I remarkably managed to complete the challenge which included hitting Denty back over his head and swatting the last ball for six even if it was delivered by Leaky. The latest correction towards my hinge seemed to work but I felt that the starting position of the toe of my bat could be a bit higher at times.

Overall, I am considering whether I should train in isolation until I rediscover my swing. It will eventually come down to the weather forecast and perhaps the availability of the nets. It is a strong option given that my batting is on the upswing. It’s my bowling that needs work and it’s something I’m desperate to hold onto as I strongly believe it’s my primary strength.

September 16, 2020

The weather forecast dissuaded me from training in isolation today with seemingly a likelihood of showers. Over the week, I realised that if I pull to the hip while push my front arm prior to back foot contact, I might be able to pull that front arm, which will then enable me to snap through my action. It would then require me combine that thinking together with the band-aid approach I took the session before last to hopefully move the ball while hitting the right areas. Expectation would be then that it would click just before the season started (although it must be said for me that I am unlikely to play until October 17th).

Even though, my batting seemed to be on an upswing especially after conquering a challenging net session last week. It must be said thought that if I could potentially bring my hands up a bit to bring the toe of the bat a bit more off the ground (as long as my hands continue to touch the insides of both thighs), it could help the hinging process greatly especially with my reactions against quicker bowlers. 

The expectation as usual was different to reality. While I was able to snap through my action as expected, it was on occasions due to the indoor surface which makes it difficult to develop good rhythm. When it clicks, I become a handful. I clipped the edges of Ed Thomas and Andrew Olsson. Then I bowled a bouncer then yorker to Don Kieu before beating Matt Kildea’s edge on consecutive deliveries with length. I got the ball to swing at times, but the seam had been flattened after overs and overs of bowling during pre-season. That aside, crucially, I started to follow through a bit more unlike last week, even though at times, I abruptly stop after delivery.

September 23, 2020

The weather forecast for the week ahead again dissuaded me from going outdoors to practice on my own with the harder white balls. I wouldn’t have been able to bowl with them in the indoor nets given that I run in from the white wall which would have made it difficult for batsmen to see it.

On that note, I was strongly considering skipping practice this week to work on my fitness with the opportunity to return to practice when outdoor training commences. I am at present unlikely to attend next week as I want to get two weight training sessions in before I go out of town on holiday.

Having made the decision to attend practice, I was contemplating whether to expose my new red ball in order to me to give me the feel-good factor from getting the ball to move prodigiously. However, seeing how much my current ball has been flattened and worn out over the past few sessions is making me think twice.

My focus then would be to just run in and bowl and perhaps practice using my angles around the crease as a form of deception. Which is what I tried to do with the snap through my action today. But I bowled short of a length and wide which fed the cut shot initially. From a bowling action, inspired by Shane Bond, my action became similar to that of Shaun Pollock which resulted in late movement with a bit of bounce.

As a result, I bowled better. I got a few edges, beat the bat a few times especially when I pumped my arms harder through the crease. I had fallen in a trap trying to be a wannabe fast bowler in the 2nd half of the season, which proved detrimental to my performances. Now, I’ve got something to work with just in time before the season started. If keepers started keeping up to me, I should let it go from an ego perspective as it probably might help me hit my lengths better whilst daring the batters to charge me with the risk of being stumped.

Having been the last person to arrive at practice, I was due to bat last. I ended up facing the A and B grade bowlers which were genuinely sharp. It was horrible initially. I struggled against Gary Branford’s leg spin and got rapped on my left glove by Riley Robinson (a former Northern District Jets cricketer)’s short ball which I failed to pick up. As a result, I became more conscious of my hinge which allowed me to deal with everything else there forth. I was comfortable blocking, leaving and playing the occasional drive which was mostly served up to me thereafter.  Henceforth, I need to hinge early but slowly to develop the rhythm on the downswing.

September 26, 2020

Pre-season is over for me. Unlike last season, I am in a much better frame of mind with respect to my all-round game. Although, it must be said that I should be starting to spend more time fielding. Now given that it’s mandatory to have no more than 4-5 bowlers in a net at one time, fielding is an aspect that I could dedicate some time to every session which might hold me in good stead. I found it very helpful to work on my throwing before the last game of last season against Gepps Cross which lead to an improved showing in the field where I threw nice and straight.

Generally, if there’s something you don’t quite have a strong preference for, you would look to get it out of the way. In this case for me it’s fielding. Spend some time practising throwing nice and straight along with some catching practice at the start of training before getting into bowling and batting. Doing fielding would be a good way to warm up to keep the body loose for bowling. So, my goal during training is to spend time fielding every session.

As Maxy and Patty had told me, my batting is useful. Maxy is hoping that I become more consistent with the bat given the overall struggles in the batting department last season which costed us a top four finish. Thereby, I shall aim to make double figures every time I go out to bat as long as I am at the crease for at least 30-45 minutes. That is my match-by-match goal.

My season goal which proved later to be my measurable goal as well (an initiative by Latchy) is to concede no more than 3.50 runs per over across both one- and two-day matches. Ok, perhaps I dropped my standards considering that I only went above 2 runs per over but it must be said that I played more two day cricket. Now, with selections going to be competitive, I face the likelihood of spending more time in LO6s. Hence, I am likely to concede more runs in a one day match as opposed to a two day one. The onus would be to ensure that I am focused towards generating the late swing and bounce on a length through my action as opposed to chasing for pace. The action I have from Wednesday’s training will help me in good stead irrespective of the conditions. Bring on the season.

2019-20 Season Review, April 3, 2020

The season has come to an end……albeit two weeks ago courtesy of you know what, The Corona Virus.  With the Sheffield Shield canceling the season with one more round remaining before the finals, it was within Cricket Australia’s wisdom to request that all local competitions also come to a halt.

Given that C1s missed out on the top four having lost the last two matches, we don’t feel bad after all. In the normal circumstances, we would naturally be very disappointed considering it was not long ago that we were sitting in the third spot on the ladder. On the other hand, the boys who were part of the As and Bs and the LO1 sides that qualified, they would have been hard done by. The As (having finished second courtesy of a defeat to Marion in a reduced match at the front oval of PAC as well) as LO1s (who had defeated the minor premiers Flinders Uni captained and coached by Naveen Vinod) will undoubtedly be more disappointed compared to the Bs who finished minor premiers without dropping a single match.

From a club perspective, the fact that they’re able to field six teams every weekend itself an achievement, ensuring that the decision to register one more side at the start of the season paid off. To top it off, the club also fielded five T20s teams of all made it to the semi-finals with the side full of the PAOC football club members coming up trumps. So two premierships make a successful season, I suppose.

From a personal perspective, it also makes my decision to switch to this club from Adelaide University a perfect one. I was surrounded by outstanding people who backed me to give my best even when I felt I got conflicting advice with regards to my game (for the record, I’m not having a go at anyone. They have perfect intentions by advising me to help me). In the end, I have to accept what they say and see whether that will work for me moving forward. Only one’s self can understand their own game better than anyone.

I actually can’t summarise how I really went this season. At times, I was doing reasonably well, sometimes it hasn’t worked out so well. All I could say is that when the opportunity really presented itself to contribute with bat or ball, I managed to do so from time to time.

Before the Christmas/New Year break, I have been getting wickets every game only to manage a solitary scalp after that. I put it down to getting more overs, especially in the two-day matches where I was able to dry up the runs, which allowed Maxy to run through the batting line-ups in a flash.  It was no wonder he finished with 35 wickets at an average of just below 12. My performances included with season-best figures of 3/15 off 8 overs against Golden Grove, 2/7 off 11 overs against Brighton. I was back to my restrictive best in the last two matches, but I started to have second spell syndrome when I was up against well-set batters. That aside, 12 wickets isn’t really a bad season with the ball considering I only went for about 2.45 runs per over. Perhaps my tidiest season ever.

With regards to the batting, I wished (perhaps a bit far-fetched) to come good. But even though I was batting within the lower order, I managed to contribute where I could. In the second half of the season, I managed to reach double figures and share some useful partnerships. Against Golden Grove, I made 12 not out and shared two critical partnerships that proved to be the difference between them and us. I had added 30 with Gary Branford before adding an unbeaten 27 with Maxy. Both helped us to bat 72 overs and post a match-winning score. Then I had shared the highest partnership of our forgettable Performance against Gepps Cross as I added 37 with Matt Dickson, contributing 13 but felt in control until I was out LBW after being hit on the toe.

Those performances aside, they do not overshadow my most excellent match ever against Athelstone, which I shall look back with relish in the future. Let me summarise what had happened. I came in at 6/72 and looked comfortable, having made the conscious decision to bat outside my crease to help me get forward. I had moved to 18 or so when we lost our 8th wicket on Nelson (111). Then I added 70 odd runs with Daniel Mosey on either side of me going off for cramps.

As a result, I finished unbeaten on 67, having faced 113 balls and resisted for about two hours, hitting ten fours and a six. Reading Maxy’s match report later in the season, his piece included a comment about my knock Class, poise, and dexterity summed up his innings.” Without that kind of innings, we would have been in the shits. Instead, we posted 188. Game on.

The following week, Athelstone had added 61 before Maxy’s five-wicket bag ensured a win for us even if it took a bit longer than we expected. I also chipped in with two vital wickets while only going for exactly two an over throughout my 17 over spell. Firstly, Rocco Canino, who fell for the three-card trick (outswinger, outswinger, inswinger) that the likes of Malcolm Marshall and Martin Bicknell have pulled off. The ball went behind Rocco’s legs to hit his middle stump.  Then I bowled a slower ball that trapped Lovely Mittal LBW just as he was about to get going following a couple of early blows to the fence.

Basically, 67 not out and 2/34 from 17 overs against Athelstone was no doubt my best Performance of the summer and perhaps my best ever. Nothing might be able to top that ever.

In a way, progress has been made with both bat and ball. I just need to trust the techniques that I’d developed over time while also making sure I strengthen my retractable shoulders that will improve my ‘preparation’ phase, whether it’s lifting the bat or bowling/throwing the ball. I also should be giving focus to my fielding where I can. Mainly making sure my footwork is right to take a catch or to throw the ball. In saying that, taking three high-ball catches during the season is a massive improvement compared to my nightmare that started last year’s pre-season.

Moving forward, it’s just a matter of working on my fitness ahead of the next pre-season. Now made it harder with the gym closed as we try to stop the spread of the virus. Instead, I’m confined to bodyweight training at home and weather permitting, cycling/running. I’ve managed to start a couple of programs created by Garrick Morgan and Rob Chipchase (a former teammate of mine) from AP3X Performance. So far, I’ve found them to be very useful, which could improve my weight lifting ability once the gym reopens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gepps Cross vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Duncan Fraser Reserve, March 7 & 14 2020

March 5, 2020

On Tuesday, PAOC won a trophy in Division 3 Twenty20 competition with a team full of players from the PAOC football club. I supposed though all the work Trent English enforced with Twenty20 dedicated training on Tuesdays has paid off in spades. Not only it resulted in a trophy, but it resulted in an all PAOCCC showdown in the semi-final, which was unfortunate. Personally, I would have had the showdown in the final so that cricket would have been a winner for the whole club. It doesn’t matter now as the club has a trophy this year. Hopefully, more to come this season with both As and Bs likely for semis while Cs are still in touching distance but honestly up against it as they’re behind Hope Valley (4th) by 5 points and Goodwood (5th) by 4 points. LO1s are also likely for semis with 2 games remaining. Thereby the last two weeks are now critical regarding preparation. As the coach and senior club figures had stressed, the more people attend, the better it is.

Assuming that I retain my C1 position, we have to beat Gepps Cross and pray that both Hope Valley and Goodwood lose their final match. So all three factors need to go in our favor. Stranger things have happened in cricket. I just hope this is also another instance. 

Today was a bit of a struggle as my left shoulder was paining, having had a pre-travel vaccination injected there. But I still managed to play some good shots, got some balls to swing away from the right-handers, as well as throw straight while fielding. For once, I spent a bit of extra time fielding since we had a lot of bowlers in every net. Most of my fielding time was spent trying to throw straight, having botched two run-outs in our defeat to Hope Valley. Along the way, Maxy Clarke was there to assist by rolling balls to me as I threw ball after ball. I just realized during practice that while there’s always a rush in getting the ball into the right end ASAP, I really need to slow it down to give myself the best chance of an accurate throw. I need to trust myself in this regard, moving forward.

March 7, 2020

No matter how hard I try to stay upbeat, this game is likely to be a dead rubber for us unless the Cricket Gods decide to intervene. However, another critical moment perhaps could have re-motivated ourselves to win this game. Yesterday, I learned that Ben Lobban, the club secretary who helped me transfer from Adelaide University, is about to play his 200th match for PAOCCC, which is itself a massive moment considering it will also be his birthday weekend as well.  What better way to celebrate this milestone with a win. 

I also managed to smoothen out my bowling action last night, which had allowed me to swing the ball away from the right-handers when I wanted to. Besides, the balls that I didn’t want to swing also behaved to my command. To be honest, after trying some actions that I have used to this point, I only got a slight subtle seam movement. When I changed to my past bowling action that was inspired by Ben Hilfenhaus, that was when the ball started to behave in the manner I wanted it to (as described before). Moreover, as long as my eyes are focused on the knee roll of the batsman’s pads, I’ll be able to hit the full length that Antony Brabham has been encouraging me to target since the game against Hope Valley.

It was always a good thing to have fixed, and it helped that the left shoulder pain has reduced significantly, which meant I should be able to use my front arm to pull towards my target more frequently.   

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind bowling first if we win the toss as I have rediscovered my rhythm. Moreover, if Maxy firmly wants to chase an outright victory, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to send Gepps Cross in to try to bowl them out cheaply and hopefully get ahead of their total or at least get close by stumps. On the same token, I wouldn’t mind having a bat either even though given our line-up, I’m likely to come in at 8 or 9. Let’s see.

As it turned out, we lost the toss and had to bowl, which pretty much Maxy wanted to do anyways as he was going to chase after an outright victory. Maxy and Brabs did not start very well as they drifted down the leg side, which meant a lot of chasing for me at Backward square leg. By the third over, I was immediately fed up despite my best efforts, which included more accurate throws (as I was giving myself a bit more time before throwing the ball). I was now literally praying for some respite, knowing that I might have a bit of bowling to do as we only had three specialist bowlers.

Gradually Maxy and Brabs kept it tight, and the latter struck with the first blow trapping Grantham LBW, which was down to Charles Aust (promoted up from C2s) keeping up to him to keep the batters within the crease. Courtesy of that wicket, Brabs was able to settle into a good ten over spell. During his spell, the wicket started to misbehave as some deliveries rose sharply and some kept low. It reminded me of the track in the Neil Bulger Oval as well as the Aranda tracks of old in 2016. For this particular reason, Maxy switched ends once Brabs completed his spell and promptly had Hynes caught at gully by Tom Welsby. 

After dropping a tough chance during Brabs’ spell that would have sent Hynes back to the pavilion before drinks, I got my chance a few overs afterward replacing Tom Welsby. While I got the ball to move both ways, I could not reproduce the same length that I have begun to produce with more regularity. While I wasn’t bowling loose deliveries, I was instead just hitting a length. While I was keeping it tight when I requested quick feedback from Ben, our milestone man, the consensus was such that wickets were in the order of the day. Thereby I had to risk going for runs in the hope wickets will come.

I completed a five-over spell, which only went for just two runs and featured four maidens. The accuracy that had helped me be one of the most economical bowlers in our C1 side at the start of the season. Those two runs came off a sliced heave by Dhruv Gajjar as he just cleared Matt Dickson at Mid-off. Like earlier in the season, my thriftiness accounted for two more wickets to Maxy before the tea break. Bhutak was clean bowled, and Gajjar was beautifully caught by Charles diving to his left. Gepps Cross was 4 for 70 at the break.

Having bowled that five-over spell, Maxy took me off to give Brabs another spell hoping to go for the kill. But he did tell me that another spell will be required of me after the tea break. 

First of all, we have to enjoy the afternoon tea that Gepps Cross put across. There was Watermelon, Oranges, Pizza, Spring Rolls together with an assortment of sandwiches. A far cry of the variety offered by Hope Valley last game. In that game, we were looking forward to Gepps Cross, putting out a better afternoon tea. Well, they didn’t disappoint today.

Upon resumption, Maxy and Brabs continued to bowl for about ten overs, which allowed us to move into complete ascendency. Brabs claimed another LBW shout to dismiss Clark while Maxy found himself on a hat-trick when he castled both Loader and Patel on consecutive deliveries. While he was unable to produce the killer blow, we were on top at 7 for 94, with a substantial opportunity to push our case for finals.

How wrong could we be? As it turned out, the tables completely turned against us for the rest of the day. Forbes started to tee off against both bowlers, and soon enough, the eighth wicket stand between him and Jensen had past fifty. My opportunity for a second spell finally came but precisely in hindsight at the wrong time. Not for the first time this season, I was unable to reproduce the efforts of my first spell. When Forbes launched me for six over cow corner, I had to take pace off to slow him down. It worked for some time until he launched me for two sixes in my ninth over.  It wasn’t all that bad for me since I was able to attempt to swing the ball and keep it reasonably tight against Jensen. Unfortunately, not for the first time, I failed to get a wicket. An overall analysis of nine wicketless overs for 24 runs could have been a lot better, but it seems that all the luck I had in the first half of the season has indeed deserted me upon resumption.

Meanwhile, Maxy began to look desperate as he resorted to very defensive fields (against Forbes in particular) and giving bowling opportunities to Rory Husler, Ed Thomas, and Lincoln Halton to break this partnership that certainly had taken the game away from us. Eventually, it needed Maxy himself to end the stand that was worth 130. He did so by yorking Forbes for 94. But the damage had already been done. On the other hand, Jensen did well to stay unbeaten to the end and getting his fifty. Towards the end, we managed a late run-out through Ed Thomas. Having spilled a high ball, the batsmen were running for two, which prompted Ed to throw the ball to Maxy, who knocked the bails off to have Barratt run-out. But it was yet another long day in the field for us as they finished on 9 for 247 from their 72 overs.  

While he was no doubt disappointed in how the day eventually panned out, Maxy was gracious in acknowledging that everyone tried their very best, which seemed to matter to him the most. More importantly, while it might seem a tall order, the boys remained upbeat, citing that both the wicket and the outfield have given them hope in chasing this target down (together with the inclusion of Gary Branford, who some people hope that he could tonk a ton). 

For me, the writing was on the wall. Unless we pull a rabbit out of the hat, our season might as well be coming to an end. The day itself wasn’t really that bad for us since both the C2s and the LO5s endured much worse days. C2s conceded 4/403 from their 72 overs while LO5s were trounced by 10 wickets after only posting 102 all out. Perth awaits me for a week where I hope a session with Luke can set me up moving forward, especially next weekend, as I may need to bat depending on how we go.

 

March 13, 2020

I managed to get a session with Luke today before lunch. I took away some invaluable lessons for the season ahead (assuming that the season is likely to finish tomorrow for me). I had told Luke what Richard Hockney had been trying to do with me as I had a tendency to get my bat stuck before I hit the ball, which is a real problem against bowlers who bowl at least 100 km/h. Luke, to his credit, understood why I was told to hinge the bat as late as possible as it was the same advice the professionals would have given. He then suggested that I refocus on hinging the bat early but at least slow that process down to ensure a smooth swing of the bat afterward. Something that Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith have been doing very well of late. My memo to Richard (as well as Jack Latchford who also helped me out), “I really appreciate the efforts you both have put in to help my batting, but having been with my coach for a much longer time, I’ve just been accustomed to his methods for a while now. So it’s all more natural. Please don’t feel bad.”

The good thing was that soon after that adjustment, I was making more concise decisions regarding shot selection as I have more time due to the hinge. I just need to pay attention moving forward so that I time this to perfection while maintaining a high front elbow as possible. If all this particular work paid off tomorrow out in the middle, then it’s great. Otherwise, there’s always a case of the off-season to be firmly accustomed to it.

Luke made minor changes to my bowling by raising my arms at the level of my pectoral muscles to allow for the early shoulder rotation. As an exercise, he suggested that both of my hands should finish at my left hip to ensure maximum trunk rotation even though he had been impressed with my improvement in this regard. 

Nevertheless, the biggest takeaway I got from today was the exercises that will help strengthen the back of the shoulders that will help me either when hinging the bat or loading the ball before bowling or throwing it. Moreover, it is supposed to also improve my overall posture. This was all something I have heard before. Now I’ve got something to play with during the off-season to keep me occupied before I restart my BowlFit workouts. 

 

March 14, 2020

In light of the current CoronaVirus outbreak, all clubs were advised to at least not use sweat or saliva to shine the ball, shake hands and maintain at least 1-meter distance between players to prevent any potential spread of the virus. As a result, the likelihood of the ball not being shined might give us a chance to chase down the runs we need to at least keep our finals’ hopes alive. However, we realized during our chase that Hope Valley had an excellent week last week by bowling Athelstone for 74 before being 1/17 in reply. It is likely though that they’ll win and solidify their top-four spot.

At the start of the day, Maxy announced the batting order with Gary Branford and Tom Welsby to open. However, I suppose neither of us knew that Gary wasn’t going to be available from the start. In the end, it needed Charlie Aust to go and fetch him, and the two of them arrived just before tea. Gary’s absence meant that Ed had to open instead of going at number three. Maxy also had advised that the batting trophy was on the cards if they can surpass Charlie Keeves’ aggregate of 126 runs. At this stage, Ed, Maxy, Lincoln Halton, and I had a possible chance of getting a bat. As it turned out, neither of us succeeded in dethroning Keevesy. 

Gepps Cross opened up with their batting heroes in Jensen and Forbes. They did an excellent job of ensuring that we ended the first hour on 3/47. Ed was caught and bowled by Jensen as he tried to hit leg-side only to close on the face of his bat early. Charles Aust having whacked a hat-trick of boundaries was clean bowled by Forbes. Then Ben Lobban, in his 200th match sadly, got bounced out by Jensen as the ball was held by one of the members in the slip cordon who slipped but caught the ball in his left hand. That was a surprise, but it wasn’t so given that he had struggled to pick the ball up from Jensen’s hand.

If we were looking for any respite from the back-up bowlers, we didn’t get any as Barratt and Patel definitely backed up the initial efforts. Lincoln edged Patel in the slip cordon before the same bowler castled Will Farminer’s stumps. Tom Welsby, who only managed to offer significant resistance in the top order, also got bowled but by the left-armer Barratt, who seemingly would have got one to swing back into Tom. Tom was disappointed not to have passed 50, but he played well for his 47 off 100 balls. 

Because Gary hadn’t arrived yet, I had to come in at 6/83 with our innings in shambles. With nothing to lose, I brought out my Gray-Nicolls Kronus, which I haven’t used in a match since Round 2 back in October. I was batting with Matt Dickson, who urged me to get to the tea interval. Even though I played and missed a couple, I was at least decisive in what and what not to play even if I was to go to tea without getting off the mark. Dicko at least finished the first half of the day in style by pulling Barratt to the boundary.

Once again, Gepps Cross’ afternoon tea did not disappoint as the same variety was there. During this time, Tom asked me how I was seeing them. I told him that even though I chased one, I felt I was okay. After all, I’ve got a lot of time remaining to score. It wasn’t the first time he asked me this particular question as I remember him asking me back in our recent game at Golden Grove. 

I immediately felt good upon resumption. I was showing intent to score where possible and managed to get off the mark with the push into the covers for a single. In the next over, another push this time to the left of mid-off give me another run. When I drove again through the covers for a couple and then pinched a quick single. Soon enough, Dicko and I started to accumulate. Dicko was hitting the ball hard, which helped him gain a few boundaries, and all of a sudden, he was feeling good. We batted together for 12 overs and added 37 runs. It was later to be the highest partnership of the innings.

I started to feel confident. Not only was I looking to score, but I also continued to be selected in terms of picking balls to defend. The work Luke did with me is slowly beginning to reap the rewards. I even nailed a few cut shots and managed to hit one behind point to the longest side of the boundary. With our partnership beginning to frustrate them, Forbes returned. I spooned a ball behind square but managed to get it in a gap for a couple before pushing a single to cover who was quite deep.

Even though I continued to confidently hit the ball, I was disappointed to be out LBW having been hit on the toe. I felt that either my head or hands would have fallen to the off-side. It was indeed a good ball, but I thought that I should have done better at least to keep it out with the bat. I don’t know. Anyways, I at least made double figures, 12 to be precise. As a matter of fact, Will told me that one of the byes that were signaled was awarded to me as the call from Tom came far too late. I made 13, the third-highest score of the innings. Moreover, the 42 balls I faced were also the third-highest in the book. Nevertheless, I was very happy with how I batted, and I hope this confidence can be transferred to next season. I was also happy that I at least made some runs with the Kronus, which had a light pick up, which helped me against the seamers, no doubt.

It wasn’t long before the innings finally ended. When I emerged from our allocated dressing room as it was at the back of the building, I saw that Maxy had joined Dicko at the crease. Gary had got out having tried to repeat a shot against Forbes that went for six but instead was bowled. Dicko also fell, having compiled 26. Then Maxy was out LBW to Beames, and we were bowled out for 138. A clear 111 run defeat. A disappointing end to a season that promised a lot more if it wasn’t for the constant chopping and changing Maxy had to deal with every round.

It isn’t confirmed yet, but missing out on finals may not be a bad thing after all. While it wasn’t confirmed, there could be a possibility that the ATCA might scrap the fortnightly finals window with the CoronaVirus threat looming large. I personally would have been disappointed myself if we had qualified for finals but I would feel for the As, Bs and the LO1s if finals were to be indeed scrapped. At least Bs would have the consolation of being minor premiers having not lost a game all year.